damnum absque injuria

July 31, 2005

Sandra Day O’Connor as the Swing Vote

Filed under:   by Xrlq @ 10:06 am

Matthew Yglesias (h/t: Jon Henke) rightly takes some of his fellow libs to task for pontificating over how John Roberts’s nomination will supposedly end abortion rights (or at least the “constitutional” protections they currently enjoy) without bothering to count the remaining Justices’s votes first. He also rightly notes that the only abortion issue that really is in play is the much more gruesome “right” to partial birth abortion established in Stenberg v. Carhardt, an issue the Democrats would be foolhardy to bring up during the confirmation fight. Where Yglesias goes astray, aside from taking a gratuitous swipe at the three conservatives on the court as “far right,” is in his references to the three cases he thinks liberals should be concered about instead:

Much better cases where O’Connor was the swing vote include Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation v. EPA, which is about whether the EPA can step in when state environmental agencies don’t do their jobs; Rush Prudential HMO, Inc. v. Moran, about HMOs that screw over their clients; or Tennessee v. Lane about the Americans with Disabilities Act.

[Links added.]

Yglesias’s description of these three cases is not entirely accurate, but that’s a side issue. The more important issue is that with all due respect to HMOs and the EPA, who the hell cares how those two cases were decided? Neither raised a constitutional issues, so if you’re really that worked up over the possibility that the issues raised in Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation and Rush Prudential HMO may end up being wrongly decided in the future, your time and energy would be better spent encouraging your Senator to sponsor an amendment to the underlying statutes rather than attempting to divine whether or not a given Supreme Court nominee is likely to do this for you. Tennessee v. Lane does raise an issue under the Constitution, namely, whether or not Congress should be allowed to ignore it. Four liberals and the retiring moderate say yes, as long as they make a perfunctory reference to a different part of the Constitution than the one they are flouting. Three conservatives and the other moderate say no. If you think Congress ought to be free to do Really Important ThingsTM without having to concern itself with such niceties as federalism or the Constitution, then Judge Robert’s appointment is cause for concern indeed.

July 30, 2005

Utah Law Question

Filed under:   by Xrlq @ 10:46 pm

Is there a maximum allowable IQ for those seeking employment as a district attorney in Salt Lake City?

July 29, 2005

More on the Runaway Jury Amendment

Filed under:   by Xrlq @ 7:37 pm

In response to Patterico’s thread on fully informed runaway juries, Michael Williams likens the debate to the one on guns. The basis of this comparison, as I understand it, is that juries are like guns in that both of them are … er … um …. illegal in most of Europe. Yeah, that’s it. Or something like that. Whatever.

Anywayz, I think I may have come up with a compromise both sides can live with. Rather than just have juries render a single, general verdict of “guilty” or “not guilty,” why not have them also render special verdicts on each element of the crime charged? Jurors could then be instructed to rule on “just the facts” when determining whether or not each element was met (e.g., in a burglarly case, whether he really broke into a house, whether he really intended to commit a felony therein, whether it really took place at night, etc.), but would also be advised that they may vote their conscience on the final, general verdict and find the defendant “not guilty” if they thought all the elements of the crime were technically met but the defendant should nevertheless not be convicted of a crime. Special verdicts would be unappealable in criminal cases, and appealable in civil ones only to the extent they can be shown to be “clearly erroneous,” a very exacting standard. General verdicts, by contrast, could be appealed, but only if and to the extent that they were legally inconsistent with the special verdicts rendered by the same jury (or, in the case of civil trials, with whichever of those elements also survived the appeal).

Any takers?

Fully Informed Clueless Juries

Filed under:   by Xrlq @ 7:25 am

Once again (cf. this), Radley Balko is in way over his head on a legal issue he knows little or nothing about. This time, a higher-profile blogger than I was the one to call him on it, and an interesting discussion has arisen as a result. The debate seems to be mostly between two camps: those who think “the law” is something passed by a legislature and signed into law by an executive, and those who think “the law” is whatever some like-minded political activist tells them it is.

UPDATE: As commenter Magus notes in a comment, results may vary in other states.

July 28, 2005

Spam Karma 2

Filed under:   by Xrlq @ 7:27 am

After being flooded with 3,000 comment spams while I was away for my father in law’s funeral, I installed Spam Karma 2 (thanks, Kate). So far it seems to be working on my end. Drop me a line if anything strange happens.

History Doesn’t Repeat Itself

Filed under:   by Xrlq @ 1:30 am

It’s a good thing CAFTA passed under President Bush’s watch. Otherwise, it would have languished a few years, and then passed handily after someone named Clinton had been elected President. Then, everyone would credit President Clinton for having come up with this wonderful initiative and forget that an earlier President named Bush had ever had anything to do with it.

July 27, 2005

Paul K. McDonald, 1932-2005

Filed under:   by Xrlq @ 9:25 pm

Thanks to everyone who commented and/or emailed me to wish us well following the tragic and untimely death of my father in law, Paul K. McDonald. I got back into town early this morning on a late night flight that was delayed two hours and ended up as a red eye and came in a bit late to work this morning. Heidi (aka Mrs. Xrlq) and Ryan (aka Baby Xrlq aka Xrlq 2.0) are staying with the family for a few more days while I hold down the fort. While there is no antidote for the grief caused by the death of a loved one, a frequently giggling, perpetually smiling baby is about the closest thing there is. If only Grandpa had had a chance to meet him, which was supposed to happen today. Adding even more cruel irony into the mix, yesterday was my mother in law’s 70th birthday.

All three of his daughters delivered beautiful eulogies at his funeral on Monday. I can’t match what they said, so I won’t try. In fact, having had the privilege of knowing Paul for over a decade, I’m quite sure that if he could come back to life just long enough to say two words to me, those words would be “please don’t.” He hated funerals, and the only thing he would have hated more is to hear a bunch of people say too many good things about him. So all I will say is that was a delightful human being, a brilliant man and an excellent writer to boot. He didn’t have a blog, but I have no doubt he would have if FDR had invented at least one of the Internets while he was young enough to learn to use them. Here’s a sample of his many fine works. I may post more in the future.

July 21, 2005

Death in Family

Filed under:   by Xrlq @ 12:07 am

My father in law died today in a terrible accident. If I don’t blog again for another week or two, that’s why.

UPDATE: Thanks for the kind words. If your comment has not been added by now (7/23/05 at 4 p.m. EST), please resubmit it. I think I just flushed 2383 comment spams, but it’s always possible I inadvertently flushed 2382 comment spams, plus your legitimate comment. My apologies if this has happened.

July 20, 2005

Supreme Silliness

Filed under:   by Xrlq @ 9:51 pm

From my referral logs (UPDATE: and indirectly via INDC Journal), I give you this:

BSL Update From CA and CO

Filed under:   by Xrlq @ 7:26 pm

Pit bulls and their owners in California can breathe a little easier, now that Senate Bill 861 has been watered down to allow breed-specific spay and neutering programs only. I think that’s actually a good idea, albeit one being passed for all the wrong reasons. The right reason is that supply and demand is not equal for all breeds, so it is reasonable to be more lax about spaying and neutering those that are in short supply while being more strict about it with breeds that are overpopulated – such as pit bulls.

Unfortunately, the news from Colorado isn’t quite so good. While state law prohibits BSL, Denver continues to exempt itself from state law, pushing canine genocide. The only semi-good news to report here is that some Denver families have managed to save their pets by transfering them to an out of town sanctuary and promising never to bring them into the Fiefdom of Denver again. If you have the misfortune of living in that God-forsaken city, my only advice is to vote with your feet.


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